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NEVADA VIEWS: New year brings new laws to Nevada

On many of the day-to-day issues Nevada families face, we simply can’t wait for Washington to take action. That’s why, during the 2019 legislative session, state lawmakers fought to deliver opportunities for hardworking Nevada families to get ahead. Our successes show real progress for our Battle Born state as well as the importance of state legislators in tackling the issues that our fellow Nevadans care about.

Several of these bills will take effect on Wednesday. I want to highlight a few that demonstrate our leadership on the issues that positively impact our Nevada families.

Delivering better access to affordable health care was a critical component of the work we did for Nevada families. Legislation championed by Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, will provide protection for families who have previously been hit by “surprise” bills from hospitals after emergency room visits. This is a national problem with studies showing that 1 in 6 emergency-room visits lead to these surprise bills, which can total many thousands of dollars. For families that are on tight budgets, these medical bills can be the cause of financial ruin. Assembly Bill 469 goes into effect Jan. 1 and stops out-of-network health care providers from charging more for medical treatment than they would charge an in-network patient.

Wednesday also marks another milestone in protecting Nevadans with pre-existing medical conditions. Nevadans can rest assured that the Legislature fought to prevent them from being overcharged for health care. Assembly Bill 170 makes our state just the fifth state in the nation to codify the federal Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients into state law.

The Maternal Mortality Review Program, Assembly Bill 169, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno of North Las Vegas, establishes a process to examine mortality and morbidity rates among pregnant women in Nevada. It’s a simple, but important, look at what is creating high mortality rates for women of color. The study will examine what has worked to improve outcomes in other areas, present recommendations to the Legislature, and create a pathway to saving the lives of Nevada women.

We also addressed the gun violence epidemic and worked to make our communities safer by passing AB291. This bill, which again goes into effect Jan. 1, bans “bump stocks” that convert guns into rapid-fire weapons resembling machine guns. It also includes incorporating Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which take guns out of the hands of people who present a risk to themselves or others. This critical legislation was championed by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, D-Las Vegas, an Oct. 1 survivor who put her grief into action. This law will save lives.

We put addressing the climate crisis at the forefront of our legislative session and regained our status as a state others should follow. Common-sense work to increase water and energy efficiency goes into effect Jan. 1. Assembly Bill 163 increases water conservation standards for everyday items such as faucets and showers as well as appliances in new construction or renovated properties.

In another series of laws going into effect this new year, we protect Nevadans from discrimination and increase services to many of our most vulnerable populations. We passed AB363, which allows homeless young people to qualify for free state-issued identification cards and enables them to more easily access assistance programs and services. Assembly Bill 383 creates a student loan “bill of rights” to protect people from predatory finance companies and scam “higher-ed” schools. Assembly Bill 132 affords protections to employees by ensuring large private employers will no longer be able to deny people employment based on the presence of marijuana in screen tests.

As we enter a new year in Nevada full of promise, let us work to build on the progress we have made together. Our blueprint for success will be measured by how well we keep Nevada families safe, strengthen economic opportunities for all and build a state that gives the next generation the tools they need to succeed.

— Jason Frierson, a Democrat, is speaker of the Nevada Assembly.

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